Using Analytics to Drive Gender Equality - An Interview with Stephanie Lampkin

Stephanie Lampkin, TEDx speaker and former downhill ski racer, has graced the cover of The Atlantic, MIT Tech Review 35 under 35 and Forbes to name a few. She is the founder & CEO of Blendoor, enterprise software that mitigates unconscious bias in hiring. Stephanie has had a 15 year career in the tech industry founding two startups and working in technical roles at Lockheed, Microsoft, and TripAdvisor. Stephanie holds a BS in Management Science &Engineering from Stanford University and an MBA from MIT. Born in SE Washington, DC to a homeless single mother that battled a drug addiction, Stephanie has seen the world through many lenses and experienced being over-marginalized and underestimated. These experiences have given her insights that she now uses to promote technology that levels playing fields and helps us see people better.

Stephanie will be speaking on a panel at the 2018 HR Technology Conference session: Using Analytics to Drive Gender Equality.

Research shows that gender-diverse companies are more likely to outperform their less diverse peers. And when women thrive, businesses and societies thrive. Advances in big data combined with analytics are making it easier than ever for organizations to close the gender gap. A panel of women in leadership roles will examine the underrepresentation of women in management, why support of women needs to go beyond parental leave programs and how to use analytics to uncover the root causes in your organization that are hindering the progress of gender equality.

As an HR Technology Conference Insiders blogger, I conducted a Q & A with Stephanie to learn more: 

Stephanie, what do you see as the biggest challenge for organizations when it comes to removing gender bias in their talent acquisition and talent management processes?

The first step is admitting there is a problem. The next step is then making people accountable. Research shows that people are overly confident of their abilities to judge other people; especially people that are underrepresented in a particular domain. There have been quite a few companies implementing unconscious bias training, but the results have been negligible. Education must be coupled with accountability. The idea of tracking and measuring where gender bias impacts talent acquisition and talent management seems a little daunting to most, but I’m a firm believer that you can’t fix what you don’t measure. There is also algorithmic bias. Most companies use some sort of resume filtering or candidate rating system that often times use factors that are historically biased against women (like how quickly someone was promoted in their last role).

Big data and analytics are making it easier for organizations to identify and remove gender bias in the workplace. What are some tips for HR pros and people managers for getting started?  Which metrics should they begin tracking?

The first and easiest step is blinding names and any indicators of gender where ever possible: resumes, performance reviews, etc. The next, but more difficult step is determining very structured and standard decision-making criteria whether it be for hiring, promotions, or compensation enabling HR managers to track metrics based on demographics. Eliminating as many grey areas, qualitative over quantitative metrics, subjectivity, and factors that are are open to interpretation allows for a much more accurate analysis of how meritocratic a company’s people operations truly are. Where is this already happening? In school! Girls on average have much higher GPAs than boys in both K12 and post-secondary education. The issue is things become a lot less objective for women in the workplace when their performance is based on the perception of their potential.

How does Blendoor help organizations to mitigate unconscious bias in talent acquisition processes? 

Blendoor uses augmented intelligence and inclusive people analytics to help companies mitigate unconscious bias in people operations. We work with channel partners and market to target demographics to build the largest repository of diverse talent.  Companies access our talent pool by posting jobs and we present candidates that match each job, obscuring name, photo, and age; only demonstrating how that candidate fits that role, team, and company. By integrating with a company’s applicant tracking system we are able to track how different demographics of qualified candidates fare in the recruiting funnel to identify where bias is impacting systems and processes.

Paid leave is a helpful benefit, but how else can organizations support women and their advancement in the workplace?

We actually developed a diversity, equity and inclusion score (BlendScore) for this very reason. I wanted a standard, comprehensive way to measure inclusion across hundreds of companies. Our methodology is public. In addition to having what should be standard benefits like childcare assistance and paid leave, companies can support women and their advancement by achieving gender parity in leadership (board of directors, CXO, VPs, and managers), sponsoring leadership development and mentorship initiatives, and monitoring compensation and promotion decisions for equity. Across several sectors there is a noticeable drop off of women right around that 5 – 7 year career mark which is often attributed to dissatisfaction with mobility, poor culture and changing family needs. In our current society, there are different demands and expectations placed upon women that require a unique support system. This support system can’t be perceived as special treatment or concessions rather necessary and strategic tactics to retain the best talent independent of gender.

As a woman with a successful career in technology, what are some important career lessons you’ve learned in dealing with gender bias?

Everyone has experienced bias in varying degrees at some point in their careers; whether based on gender, race, age, height, weight…we’ve all been there. Bias is as human as eating, drinking, and sleeping. I’ve learned to leverage it instead of taking it personal. Where some might see gender bias as an impediment to getting ahead, I see it as an opportunity to quietly build strength and momentum so that when the right opportunity presents itself I will be strong and well-prepared (and often it’s a surprise).


Originally published on the HR Technology Conference Insiders blog.



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